The world talks about emotions. Rightly. That is also the purpose of this global emotions forum, due to the fact that 80% of our decisions are based on emotions and the remaining 20% are also influenced by emotions. There is no other way in marketing and branding than with emotions.
Fact is that as above-mentioned all our decisions are based on emotions, but it is also a fact that we need to convince our rationality and rationality don’t like emotions.
Scheier and Held (2006) gave a good example on how to understand rationality, they name it pilot, and the emotions, they name it autopilot.
The pilot is the rational system that is responsible for all the slow decisions but also for more detailed decisions and cognitive maximum performances. The pilot hates emotions and is more interested in hard facts and numbers.
The autopilot loves stories, symbols, implicit messages and is addicted to emotions. He makes decisions more quickly, unconsciously and loves to socialise.
Like in an airplane the autopilot keeps the pilot free of to much information that are unimportant or to difficult to process for him due to his slow processing of information. So for example the autopilot helps to navigate through the shelves of a supermarket. If the pilot would navigate you, probably you would be starved to death before you have purchased all items you had on your list.
Let’s get back to the pilot. The last paragraph sounds like he is not needed anyway for the purchase of goods, but that is not true. Besides his rational processing of difficult information, like mathematical equations, he is also responsible for arguing as this involves rational processes.
So let’s imagine you are buying a new car, a high emotional purchase, because what is it that distinguished a BMW from a Mercedes or Audi as they are all premium cars? It’s mostly emotions you are buying with the car, the brand. However, as buyer you need to justify your decision, because the explanation “I purchased this car because others will see me as a more successful person and hence, my social status will be enhanced” is not very socially appropriated. Therefore, you need rational arguments like quality, value for reselling, security and so on. These are all rational arguments that support your emotional decision of purchasing the 343 hp strong BMW and they also help to defend your new car against yourself or your wife.
In this case the ratio get’s changed according to the emotions, this phenomenon is described by cognitive dissonances, which happens all the time in our lives.
But please do not feel tempted to address the real emotions directly, like a famous German car manufacture has done it in the past. They addressed the motive of their customers to impress others with their sports car explicitly with their ads material. This caused a lot of reactance’s and angry letters from customers who said that to impress others with their dominance and power associated with a sports car is a big motive to buy this car, but it is absolutely inappropriate to articulate this directly.
As a conclusion for marketing: your customers not only need to have the right emotions with your products, services and brands (more on this in the article about TV commercials) to make the purchasing decisions, you also must gave them rational arguments to defend their emotional decisions against their rationality and against others. So there is an interaction between emotional decisions and rational arguing all the time, which must not be forgotten when for example developing ad campaigns or designing purchasing processes.
Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with making decisions on a gut feeling. As described in the excerpt of Markus Reiter, the more complicated a problem or purchase seems to be the more we are prone to decide not rational but emotional – and often the result is not so bad with this method.
So in a nutshell: Emotions need to talk to the autopilot directly and hard facts need to chat with the pilot to make full use of the functioning of the brain during a purchasing process.
Scheier, C. & Held, D. (2006). Wie Werbung wirkt. Freiburg: Haufe